Side One: Mint Minus Minus (track four, No Face, No Name, No Number, is a little noisier)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This early Pink Label import pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, making this one of the best copies to hit the site in many years, if not THE best
- We used to think that The Best of Traffic had better sound, but in a head to head comparison with this very copy, we were proved WRONG
- Big, full-bodied and lively, with huge amounts of space and off the charts Tubey Magic, the sound here is Hard to Fault - thanks Eddie and Jimmy!
- "Winwood is simply incredible. He has a top group of musicians with him and they have made an album which is one of the best from any contemporary group." - Rolling Stone, 1968
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This is one of the best sounding Traffic records ever made. Musically it’s hit or miss, but so is every other Traffic record, including my favorite, John Barleycorn. The best songs here are Heaven Is In Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Coloured Rain. The first of these is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful example of late ’60s British psychedelic rock.
Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? Our Traffic LPs are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, with dead-on correct tonality -- everything that we listen for in a great record is here on our Hot Stampers.
Find me a modern record that sounds like this one and I will eat it. And by "modern record" we hasten to include both modern recordings and the modern remasterings of older recordings so popular nowadays. NO ONE alive today can make a record that sounds even remotely as good as this one does. To call it a lost art is to understand something that only a minority of vinyl-loving audiophiles appears to have grasped since the advent of the Modern Reissue, which is simply this: they just don't sound as good.
After twenty years of trying and literally hundreds of failed examples the engineers of today have yet to make a record that sounds as powerful and life-like as this Island from decades ago.
What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
What We Listen For on Mr. Fantasy
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
Click on the tab above labelled Recording Dear Mr. Fantasy to see how the amazingly talented Eddie Kramer managed to record such HUGE and LIVELY sound. (Hint: the song was recorded live in a monstrously large room.)
Heaven Is in Your Mind
House for Everyone
No Face, No Name, No Number
Dear Mr. Fantasy
Hope I Never Find Me There
Giving to You
As such a mixture suggests, the band's musical approach was eclectic, combining their background in British pop with a taste for the comic and dance-hall styles of Sgt. Pepper, Indian music, and blues-rock jamming. Songs in the last category have proven the most distinctive and long-lasting, but Mason's more pop-oriented contributions remain winning, as do more light-hearted efforts.
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